The 2001 Products of the Year Joint Loudspeakers
MartinLogan Prodigy (review) ($10,995/pair; reviewed by Larry Greenhill, Vol.24 No.7, July 2001)
Revel Ultima Studio (review) ($10,995-$11,995/pair; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson & John Atkinson, Vol.23 No.12 & Vol.24 No.1, December 2000 & January 2001)
Runners-Up (in alphabetical order):
Audio Physic Avanti III (review) ($10,995/pair; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.24 No.8, August 2001)
JMlab Micro Utopia ($5000/pair; reviewed by Sam Tellig, Vol.24 No.1, January 2001)
Joseph RM33si Signature ($7499/pair; reviewed by Chip Stern, Vol.24 No.10, October 2001)
Merlin VSM Millennium (review) ($8150/pair with active bass equalizer; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.24 No.9, September 2001)
Red Rose Music R3 (review) ($3500/pair; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.24 No.5, May 2001)
Triangle Celius ($1995/pair; reviewed by Sam Tellig, Vol.24 No.10, October 2001)
Our 2001 Joint Loudspeakers—the Revel Ultima Studio and the MartinLogan Prodigy—were separated by a single vote, which went to the Revel. Although they're two entirely different products built on completely different technical concepts, it just goes to show that there's more than one way to skin an audiophile cat.
The Studio is the second-largest speaker Revel turns out in its Ultima series and embodies all of Revel's philosophy, Dr. Kalman Rubinson noted, while not costing as much. Despite all the cost/benefit analysis, no effort or expense seems to have been spared in the design and construction of the Ultima Studio. It's a three-way-plus with a rear-firing port and an extra rear-facing tweeter. Said KR, "The Ultima Studios have given me unabated pleasure as well as utility—their accuracy and transparency across the audible range make them powerful tools for assessing other components and sources....the Studios let the music's humanity and joy shine through into my listening room. Highly recommended."
In July 2001, Dr. Larry Greenhill took a whack at the MartinLogan Prodigys. These, too, are "trickle-down" designs, making use of what ML learned from making their flagship Statement Evolution 2. Those cost $70k, and these don't—a mere $10,995 puts a pair of Prodigys in your listening room. The electrostatic panels are mated to new, dual 10" "ForceForward" bass drivers, their alignment intended to reduce low-frequency room interactions and resonances. "Of all the Prodigy's sonic characteristics, the most impressive was its dynamic range," admired Larry. "Sure, I was swayed by the usual electrostatic attributes—low distortion, timbral accuracy, and deep, wide soundstaging that took my breath away—but there was more." After extended break-in, "music I'd always loved then came alive in a brand-new way. Instrumental timbres and colors became much more vivid, intense, and startlingly realistic." He summed up: "Crank up the volume and listen. I promise you—the MartinLogan Prodigy will be a revelation, and the best cure for electrostatophobia." JA was moved to add, "the best-measuring electrostatic speaker I have examined."